Locos vs Rams rivalry game lives up to hype

By: 
GARRETT HARR
Outlook staff writer
Photos courtesy of Hailey Maurer.  Christian Jones hits the the game winning jumper in the Locos two-point home victory against their rival, Billings Central Rams.

LHS senior Christian Jones hit a game winning Reggie Miller-esque, quadruple-teamed, hands-in-his-face, Rams’ mouths gaped open, nothing but net, at-the-buzzer, game winning right-side baseline jumper to give the Locomotives a 34-32 victory in the last seconds in the most hyped game of the season last Thursday. It was a glorious win against their biggest rival, the Billings Central Rams.
Chaos ensued.
The entire student section, the players and every single fan rushed the court to embrace the hero-of-the-moment, Jones.
The poise and smooth transition of the entire play was as perfect as could be.
Jones took the inbound pass and was defended closely by one of the Rams’ best players, Chrishon Dixon. In slow motion as the shot clock clicked down closer to zero, Jones drove to the right baseline and had three other Rams swarm him to get a hand in his face. It didn’t matter; instead of letting go a panicked rushed shot, the entire sequence looked like practice for the kid. He orchestrated the shot with no emotion, hanging mid-air with cold blood in his veins until the ball left his hands.
The game was a low-scoring affair; that was mostly due to the suffocating defense of both teams. When a player scored, they earned it.
Dixon, of BCCS had an outstanding game as the young man made 12 points for his team and was then tasked with guarding Jones on the last play before getting posterized with his three other teammates.
The relationships and close knit group of the Laurel boys and all of the emotion that comes with a team like that close were on full display when Jones hit the last shot. It was innocent, all of the raw emotion and joy.
“A typical Laurel and Billings Central game,” said LHS coach Pat Hansen. “The crowd was amazing. I am extremely proud of our players. They represented the town of Laurel tonight.”
The game was close through every quarter. No team got enough of a lead to feel comfortable. Playoff basketball mid-season is a showcase game for the fans and the players.
The hype will only grow over the next few weeks between the two teams, until they meet again on Feb. 18, at Billings Central. Until then the lore and the history between the two schools has a new chapter, written by Christian Jones, Shay Osborne, Layne Willis, Dawson Cortese, Chan Lawrence and the rest of the boys and the dedicated fans who rushed the gym floor in a collage of purple and white Loco fanfare.

Laurel def. Billings Central 34-32
Billings Central 8 5 13 6 — 32
Laurel 8 4 12 10 — 34
Billings Central: Chrishon Dixon 12, Andrew Nelson 2, Johnny Elliott 5, Jet Campbell 2, Shay Dantic 7, Noah Gaudreau 4.
Laurel: Casey Cole 8, Shay Osborne 4, Christian Jones 6, Layne Willis 2, Dawson Cortese 10, Chanc Lawrence 4.
Emotions were still high during the next game when the Locos took on Columbus. Both Casey Cole and Christian Jones sat out to give them an extra day to heal and rest for the tough games ahead, but the rest of the LHS click took care of business early.
Laurel held Columbus to just three points in two different quarters and lead the entire game to finish off the Cougars 35-20.
Shay Osbourne led the way with 13, followed closely behind by Layne Willis and Dawson Cortese who each had eight and seven.
Since the New Year the Locomotives have trumped their opponents by an average of 36.5 points in route to a six-game winning streak. The time of waiting for the team to find their rhythm has come to an end and hasn’t stopped for anyone. No one is more observant of it than LHS head coach Pat Hansen.
“I like our team’s attention to details right now,” said Hansen. “They are competing on every possession and wanting to win every possession. [They are] Playing extremely hard for the person next to them.”
Timing is everything and only time will tell Hansen more about his team’s toughness as his boys have a very difficult schedule ahead.
Their next game is tonight, Home Game, at 7:30 p.m. The Bulldogs are ranked second in Class A. Two days later on Jan. 28, Laurel plays their last game away, at Billings Skyview, the number one ranked team in the AA division, before heading home to play Miles City.
Two games in two days against two of the best teams around will test the Locomotives on every level and give them a chance to extend their winning streak to eight games.

Laurel def. Columbus 35-20
Laurel 11 8 8 8 — 35
Columbus 3 8 3 6 — 20
Laurel: Shay Osbourne 13, Connor Schwab 4, Brett Wagner 1, Layne Willis 8, Dawson Cortese 7, Chanc Lawrence 2.
Columbus: Chuck Miller 1, Riley Livingston 2, Jace Aumueller 3, Zack Sutton 7, Mario Sabo 3, Brandon Horton 2, Carson West 2.

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